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Liverpool Football Club Thread - Champions 19/20

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Good article from The Athletic about Klopp’s evolution of the current squad and Timo Werner:

 

Spoiler

Jurgen Klopp had steered his Opel Insignia past the vast walls of the sprawling Ince Blundell Estate beside Formby’s bypass last autumn when he realised he needed to have a conversation with his wife, Ulla.

Earlier that day, Klopp had been in Kirkby — the site of Liverpool’s new training ground, which is expected to open this summer.

He had seen the outstanding facilities, the close proximity to the club’s youth academy a little further up Arbour Lane and Anfield’s main stand shimmering in the distance, recognising that he had helped establish a visible, practical and emotional connection between three significant locations. Then he looked at the open shell where his office will be and imagined someone else looking out at the view, directing operations from a space created at his command.

Klopp had told Liverpool’s owners in 2016 that a new training facility was a priority.

Fenway Sports Group (FSG) had already done their research, knowing it would cost more than £50 million. They also knew the Liverpool squad needed improving. This meant that extra funds were not lying around in the bank waiting to be used on other projects.

Klopp’s request had the potential to impact on their reach in the transfer market, but he didn’t mind. ‘We’ll just have to work harder,’ he thought. FSG, led by Mike Gordon, listened to Klopp’s suggestions and four years later Liverpool will soon enter a new era away from Melwood just at the point the team’s development is accelerating and the possibilities seem greater than they have been for generations.

On that drive home, Klopp tried to imagine himself being anywhere else and could not.

Liverpool’s owners had long feared he might walk away at the conclusion of a contract that ran to 2022. They had reassured him that negotiations on a new deal were only ever a phone call away. Klopp had resisted because he’s not the sort of person to peer too far ahead. His father had looked forward to a retirement that ended up lasting only a couple of months before his own death. This had prompted a re-think in Klopp’s own life. He tries his best to live only for the moment.

Still, an important matter had germinated in his own mind and later that night, Klopp and his wife allowed themselves to consider what the future might hold.

Spain was an option. For Klopp, there would always be offers. Yet La Liga had never captured Klopp’s imagination like the Premier League did. Language had long been one of his most powerful tools and he does not speak Spanish. Would his words have the same impact there? Would Spanish fans appreciate his style of football the way they do in England and Germany? Would time run out quicker on him than in places he knew better, considering how differently his teams play compared to those that traditionally represent Real Madrid and Barcelona?

What about a return to Germany? He would not enjoy the control he has at Liverpool at Bayern Munich — where there are plenty of admirers, despite him being their enemy in a previous life as Borussia Dortmund coach. The national team? Klopp is a great unifier but that job is not available and maybe it is for later in his career anyway…

Ulla Klopp loves living on Merseyside, and so does her husband. They were not keen to move away from a region where they are able to lead relatively normal lives despite its passion for football. Klopp had helped engender a triangle of trust between himself, his players and the owners. When that happens, the fans follow. Both in a social and sporting sense, the conditions were right for them to stay. Klopp told his agent, Marc Kosicke, to have a chat with Gordon and it did not take long to hammer out details. Gordon, needless to say, was relieved as well as delighted.

Crucially, Klopp had concluded, the prospect of a new challenge was within the framework of an environment he’d already fostered: the rebuilding job to come after this current team’s cycle is done. He realises the trick is not to make it seem like a rebuilding job at all, rather a smooth transition from one to the next: where outstanding players are replaced by other outstanding players ready to carry on their good work.

He recognises the conditions at Liverpool are there for him to do what Sir Alex Ferguson did at Manchester United and what Arsene Wenger did at Arsenal, albeit to a lesser extent because he does not see himself still managing Liverpool a decade from now. He believes he can build a second great team — something he has not managed in his previous jobs, and nor has any other German coach working abroad.

At Mainz, he never had an opportunity to maintain a culture of relative success because his better players always got sold to the sort of clubs hoping to push into the Bundesliga’s European qualification places and Mainz were not a big enough deal to attract ready-made replacements. With Dortmund, he never had it because his best players moved either to Bayern, Spain or England. At Liverpool, he has more of a defining influence on the future because of the team’s achievements, the club’s rediscovered status and what else might happen.

He can dictate the market more than he has ever been able to.

Klopp’s and Liverpool’s strong position is reflected in their stance on Timo Werner. After scoring the winner against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League last week, the RB Leipzig forward could not have made it any clearer that he would relish a move to Anfield if an offer came his way.

“I know that Liverpool is the best team at the moment in the world and when you are linked with that team it makes me very proud,” Werner said.

The Athletic understands Werner has already received proposals from Barcelona and Manchester United but is waiting to see whether Liverpool make a move. There is a clause in his contract which means that he can agree a £51 million move away as long as it is negotiated before a deadline in April, which would then give Leipzig longer to make their own plans to replace him for next season.

It was put to The Athletic by a key source this week that if Klopp chooses to go for Werner, who has 28 goals this season, negotiations are most likely to start in the middle of March. That is the month when discussions really got going in previous years on the eye-catching deals that brought in Fabinho and Alisson from Monaco and Roma respectively.

Immediately, Klopp is thinking about his attacking options for next season because of the scheduling of the Olympic Games (July 22 to August 8) and Africa Cup of Nations (January 9 to February 6). Both tournaments might have an impact on a campaign that’s unlikely to involve either Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri, who are both expected to leave the club in the summer.

A longer-term consideration is that his brilliant front three are roughly the same age — Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both turn 28 in the next four months while Roberto Firmino is 29 in early October — and though Klopp wants them to finish their careers at Liverpool and achieve plenty more before then, the introduction of a younger forward (Werner is 24 next Friday) could be beneficial.

Werner would not be signed as anyone’s replacement but as competition, someone who has the ability to push one of Salah, Mane or Firmino out. Of the three players currently at Klopp’s disposal, only Firmino does not kick up a fuss when he is substituted — yet he is arguably the most valuable of them all. Even on Monday night against West Ham United, Mane seemed frustrated when he was taken off in stoppage time until a greeting from the Kop distracted him.

Mane and Salah have a healthy, competitive rivalry and Klopp benefits from this but he does not want to disrupt the balance. Loyalty is also a big deal to him. Both players signed for him and have given him their all. It will take conversation and careful reasoning if he is to convince each of his present front three of the benefits of heightened competition at a point in the calendar where promises of the earth from elsewhere will probably come to their agents. The timing of such conversations will also be crucial considering what Liverpool can win from here.

Werner, meanwhile, is said to be perceptive. He has seen the struggles of Philippe Coutinho after a big move from under Klopp’s Anfield wing to Barcelona and knows that club’s current team is probably its weakest since before Frank Rijkaard took charge in 2003. He also knows Manchester United have been in flux since 2016.

It has been suggested Werner also does not want to waste prime years waiting for Liverpool’s star players to move on, but surely Klopp has noted another comment from last week where he admitted, “I know that Liverpool play a lot of good players and I have to improve myself and I need to learn many more things to get to that level and to play there.”

Those who have followed Werner’s career closely in Germany say his character is a mature mix of talent, patience and perseverance. He is strong-willed. There had been an agreement for him to go to Bayern last summer but they messed him around by pursuing Manchester City’s Leroy Sane more aggressively instead. When that move broke down in August because of a serious injury to Sane, it was too late to turn back. Werner was said to be so disappointed by the way Bayern handled the matter that he instructed his representatives to return the contract — an indication it would never be signed.

He has gone from strength to strength this season, emerging as one of Europe’s best forwards, and is still wanted by a section of Bayern’s board, who were banking on his original Leipzig deal running out so they could sign him on a free transfer this summer. This left Werner feeling like he wasn’t a priority — or, at worst, not really wanted — so he agreed a new contract which gave him freedoms around fresh options over the next few months.

Though Klopp and Werner come from the Swabia region of south-western Germany and both grew up supporting Stuttgart — the club where Werner began his career — there is a clearer link between the pair: the involvement of Karlheinz Forster, Werner’s agent.

Forster was Klopp’s boyhood hero, a pillar in the Stuttgart defence that helped secure only the third Bundesliga title in the club’s history in 1984, shortly before the future Liverpool manager turned 17. Klopp’s grandmother Anna had knitted him a white jumper in the style of Stuttgart’s kit with Forster’s No 4 on the back. Klopp then clung to the No 4 in his own playing career, even when he was used as a centre-forward by Mainz.

It is claimed that when they first met decades later, Klopp did not arrive with the sort of big gestures we are now familiar with. Rather than greet Forster with a bear hug, he stretched out his arm and offered a rather more restrained handshake, such was his respect.

There might be a convenient arc to this relationship, because their next handshake could prove to mark the beginning of Liverpool’s next stage.

 

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Robertson asking about the Champions League and Trent reminding him they’re on Sky Sport :lol:

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29 minutes ago, CheekyLee said:

Lovren starts.

 

:angry:


Lovren has looked pretty solid in the (admittedly few) games he’s played for us this season imo.

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Bottom teams have been picking up points this weekend. Watford will keep up that trend today. 

 

Watford 3-2 Liverpool

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2 minutes ago, ilpostino said:

Do Watford always play Z-Cars when they walk out? If not, that's hilarious.

 

They do yes. 

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Our passing has been awful so far. Watford are pressing well. Just not clicking at the moment. I am sure it will come good sooner rather than later, but need to get through their press and gain control. 

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Passing? Watford are setting up with the whole team in their own half when Liverpool have the ball.

 

It's not an issue of poor passing but a lack of space and difficult passing that is the issue.

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Ouch, that looked nasty for Deulofeu. Shame for Watford too, as he was so dangerous. 

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How the fuck is that not a free kick from that on Trent from Deeney. 

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Hughes kicks Wijnaldum on his standing foot, nowhere near the ball, and doesn't get a yellow.

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To be fair, how Lovren got away without a yellow card for that block at the end is also beyond me.

 

Absolutely dreadful half of football from both teams. We really need to wake up in the second.

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A series of defensive errors then. Lovren was just holding onto his man and watched it go straight over his head and perfect heading height. Useless shit.  VVD and Robbo no better either.

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3 minutes ago, bradigor said:

What on earth is Lovren doing in the build up to that goal?

 

Lovren can not be a scapegoat for that goal. The defense was just poor all round.

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If TAA is a cheat code then Lovren is the handicap when you play against your mum. 

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Whole team have been collectively shit today. Oh well, it happens. I can finally stop making those 'predictions' ;) 

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So which player is going to score the 2-3? Origi? Mane?

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Just now, bradigor said:

Whole team have been collectively shit today. Oh well, it happens. I can finally stop making those 'predictions' ;) 

 

They won't let you off the hook so easily ;)

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Hopefully we concede some more, just get all the shit mistakes out of our system in one game. That’s how it works, right?

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